Thursday, February 6, 2014

Full Circle

Last night, I was looking for something to doodle. So often, I've found inspiration and comfort in the Psalms, so I started thumbing through them.

Life has sure changed.

Underlines. Notes in the margins. Tear streaked ink. These cover the pages of my Bible that hold Psalms of tragedy and pain.

Verses about being forsaken. Alone. Broken-hearted. Empty. Helpless. Sinking. Fear.

Emotions expressed thousands of years ago. Shared by my heart for so long. Years I thought would never end.

Today, for myself, I no longer dwell in those Psalms. I seek out the verses of Promise and Hope in the Old Testament, and words of Encouragement and Conviction in the New Testament.

But those underlines. Tears. Notes. They still tug at me. Not for me, but for my girls. The ones I've been praying for these last months.The ones I'll soon be sharing life with. Right now, they are all in places of darkness I have never been or imagined. Those Psalms, the cries for help, for anyone at all to take notice and see me - those will be the cry of their hearts.

So I've circled back. Through autumns of drought and death. Through seasons of barren winter. Through springs alive with new and beautiful things. Through summers filled with light and warmth.

Back to the death and intense hurt caused by sin in this world. But this time. This time. I know that I am safe and secure. I know that life will spring anew for each of these girls. I know the healing brought by God's abundant grace.

". . . to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor."
Isaiah 61:1b-3
photographer Zion DiGennaro

The Next Thing

Hi friends and family!

Hope you have all been doing well and enjoying the fresh new year of 2014! I am so excited to see what God has ahead of me this year, and wanted to share with each of you the new adventure I'm about to begin.

Several years ago, my friend Gretchen introduced me to the issue of sex-trafficking. She had heard about it at ICOM (International Conference on Missions) and was deeply moved and determined to reach the victims of this horrific crime. Gretchen gave me books, sent me articles, and showed me movies and documentaries about this issue and I found myself sharing her passion to help girls who lead these lives. However, at the time I was in school to be a nurse and didn't really see a clear way that nursing would connect to this. In the past year and a half, I've been searching for an opportunity to work with this population in a capacity as a missionary overseas, but nothing has been quite right, and most of the organizations I found who were helping these girls didn't need a nurse. So, I found a job in Springfield after graduation and have been working as an RN on a women's health floor at the hospital here. It has been the perfect "first nursing job" for me - great learning experience, great co-workers, great patient population.

Then, about a month ago, Gretchen posted on facebook a job opportunity with the non-profit organization she works for, called The Covering House. Based in St. Louis,  TCH is a group dedicated to raising awareness and help for girls in the St. Louis area who are victims of sex-trafficking. While it may seem like a "foreign" problem, there are actually  many, many victims in the U.S., especially in larger cities, and St. Louis is no exception. TCH is planning to open a residential home as soon as they are able and one of the positions they posted was for an RN! I prayed about it for a while and then applied - within a week I had interviewed, been offered the job, and decided to accept!

So, in about 1 month I am going to be moving to St. Louis to work full-time with The Covering House! I will be managing the healthcare for the 10 girls who will be living in the residential home and collaborating with the therapists, psychiatrist, physician, education supervisor, and programming director to find the best treatment plan for dealing with the physical and psychological ramifications of the trauma these girls have experienced. The home is brand new and there are very few places like this in the U.S. - less than 100 beds in the whole country for an estimated 300,000 victims - so we will be starting from scratch and my job will be evolving as we go. The director of this organization is incredibly competent, well-informed, intelligent, and has a heart the size of Texas (or at least, St. Louis). Everyone involved is so prepared and ready for this new way of reaching girls and the ability to actually offer them a safe home.

I'm simultaneously excited and terrified about this opportunity! I am so excited to be reaching people who desperately need help, love, support, comfort, and ultimately, Jesus. I'm excited to be moving to St. Louis where I have many friends and will remain pretty close to my family (especially when compared to the option of moving to East Asia, where most organizations reaching these victims are located!). I am excited that God has given me this amazing opportunity to use nursing and my passion for helping these girls, and at the perfect timing in my own life. And I'm terrified because this is going to be an emotionally draining job, dealing daily with really heavy topics - think typical teenage girls stuff magnified times 100. These girls have lived in hell and I'm choosing to daily walk through that with them, trying to show them the hope and light offered by Christ. I'm terrified to have so much responsibility and to not have established policies and procedures of a hospital already in place, like I do now. I'm terrified to live on about half of my current income.
But, while my mind goes crazy with excitement and anticipation, I find my heart oddly at rest. Peace has found a place in my soul, and deep hope for beautiful things has taken root. I know that I am not going to change the world by taking this job. I know that I am nothing, really. I won't be rescuing anyone, saving anyone, fixing anyone. But I will get to partner with God in His incredible plan for the precious, valuable lives of each of these girls I will work with. And that is pretty neat.
So. The next several months will be busy! Thankfully, I have a friend from college who has offered her parents' home as a place to live initially while I look for an apartment that her and I can share. But, I may not call or email or be in touch very often as I wrap up life here in Springfield and start getting settled in St. Louis. I selfishly ask that you pray for me nonetheless. :) For strength and perseverance and continued peace and hope.
Thank you all for your love, support, prayers, etc. You are so special to me and I am blessed to have you!
Becky   This is the organization I will be working with! They have a lot of great information about the issue.  The Polaris Project deals with all kinds of human-trafficking, but has great info about sex-trafficking specifically.   This link has more regarding policy issues in this fight against trafficking.   Interesting article, especially with the Super Bowl just around the corner - something to think about!   Incredible documentary, very well done and looks at trafficking specifically of American youth within the U.S. - which is the population I will be working with.